Coming soon! My new book!

The Fountain: How Humans Use, Misuse and Manipulate Water and the Creek That Became a River

will be published by Torrey House Press in October 2024

Colorado’s Fountain Creek is one of the most human-dominated water systems I know of. Over the years, the Fountain has been dammed, diverted, poisoned, re-routed, mapped, named, channelized, filled with physical and human debris, reduced, augmented, confused, litigated, studied, stolen, replaced, known, unknown, forgotten, misunderstood, blamed, monitored, sampled, screen, broken and tamed. More than anything else, humans have altered the very nature of the Fountain, pumping water from Colorado’s western slope into the Fountain watershed, making what once was a creek into a river, and threatening to make it a dry creek yet again. The Fountain is the poster child Anthropocene watershed.

This book will be a work of contemporary ‘nature writing’ sporting a healthy mix of historical, geologic, economic, literary and anthropological ponderings. The book will explore and engage with the complexity of needs, values, and desires facing urban and post-pastoral waterways in the American West. The goal of this book is to place the Fountain Creek in its full ecological, historical and socio-cultural context while looking both to the past and the future for creative solutions to the problems faced by river and human alike. I see this book as thought-provoking, envelope-pushing and hopefully controversial, something to be argued over. I’m looking to “shift the Overton Window” when it comes to our relationship with Western waters.


Nature Writing Class Starts This Satuday

I’m happy to announce that several folks signed up this week for my 4-week nature writing class at the Taos Land Trust’s Rio Fernando Park! So we will have a good group to explore how environmental destruction impacts nature writing.

Should be fun!

Guided by Its Light – Nature Writing – May 2018

Guided By Its Light – Nature Writing Workshops with Jim O’Donnell

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.  – Joseph Pulitzer

Writing has long been a means of exploring and understanding the natural world. Nature writing also provides an opportunity to personally reconnect with the natural world and build a sense of place for our larger community. This intensive weekend course looks at how the work of writing nature helps to re-establish a sense of place, recalibrates our internal compass to what is vital in life and raises awareness of both the human place in nature and the impact humans have on the natural world. This course involves numerous active writing and observing excercises. We will review the various forms of nature writing (essays, articles, poetry, journals), discuss critical thinking skills, ask how and why, reflect on our own experiences of nature and expand those reflections into coherent and well-formed essays, stories and poems using concrete details, point of view and creating vivid scenes. We want to move from being inarticulate about nature to a lyrical precision about the natural world.The workshop runs for two consecutive days and takes place outside. The workshop involves active hiking and exploration.

NEXT Nature Writing Workshops : May 2018. Taos, New Mexico, USA. Contact SOMOS for more information: 575.758.0081 or